I thought I would do something a bit different rather than my usual ramblings I thought I would hand things over to my non horsey boyfriend for a guest post – which may turn into a series. I wont go into too much of an introduction but instead hand things straight over to him.
From being a newbie to slightly less of a newbie
I think that maybe for a first post, instead of a long-winded history of my experience with horses, I thought it would be more interesting to talk about the changes in perspective from a non-horsey person as they got the horsey bug and became more and more involved in the equine world in general.
It’s a little bit weird at first when dating someone who is into horses and you yourself are unfamiliar. It’s kind of like dating someone who has a small child, I guess, just a child who doesn’t speak apart from in grunts and seriously menacing stares – but that might just be Eva. And for the oddest reason, they really love that child like……….really love it.
Being someone who isn’t the greatest animal person; who is always timid to pick up a cat or nervous to get too close to a dog, I was instantly fascinated with my girlfriend and her love for horses. Mostly it is because I didn’t understand how someone could be so calm standing next to a huge creature that could swing around and boot you straight out the door let alone jump on top and ride.
You soon learn that even though you aren’t a rider yourself perhaps or fully aware of the different types of events within the sport, that you can still have a good and fun relationship with the equine world and who knows it might even become a favourite spot of yours, like how it became one of mine.
The first time going to a yard is a great example of the fact that you can start with multiple mistakes if you are not careful. Such as
“Where’s your wellies?”
“I just brought trainers”
“Your nice trainers?”
“Well… I didn’t think it would be too muddy”
Oh boy…. Big mistake. I must admit it, that even though I am from the countryside, admittedly I was not countryside enough.
The first time going to a yard, I never realised how much extra work went into the average day even before you get to jump on a horse and do the actual fun part and ride.
I knew there were obvious things to do, like having to feed the animal for instance. I knew they ate grass… and hay? They’re only have two food sources….So how hard could that be right?
It turns out that is a stupid person’s question.
Horses eat way more than just that. When I tried to help by making the food I got to find out that it’s a mixture of chaff (no idea what that was), balancer (didn’t know what it needed to balance), you can have even helpful extras like salt and energy mixes too for more energy, or less, maybe medium energy if that’s your thing. Finally throw in a bit of water and you have high energy perfect horse soup.
There are even lots of things to consider even before you step out of your house in the morning.
For instance, are you going to ride? What are you going to do whilst riding? Are you going to work on something on like training for a competition or practising techniques you’ve recently had a lesson on?
And even before you figure out what your doing with your day, you must even start out before that and make sure you brought the right clothes. I didn’t think joppers… jodhpurs (am I spelling that right?) were terribly important or a sports shirt or the boots that go with them. I was like hey, why not just grab some jeans an old t-shirt and just jump on?
The one new realisation I will always remember is that, even though they do look like just for show sometimes, that the horse rider outfit is essential, and nothing teaches you that quicker than wearing a pair of slightly too small constricting trousers yourself and jumping on a horse for your very first lesson. You learn that quick. With uncomfortableness and shock when you try and trot for the first time as you uncontrollably bounce and slam back down onto a saddle. That memory will never leave me.
After watching food prep, stable clean-up, catching the horse and riding a few times, it dawned on me that a lot of preconceived notions I had were wrong and also I didn’t understand what made the sport more special than some others.
I thought that it would be terrifying to try and sit on top of this huge animal that wasn’t a machine and had a brain of it’s own. I didn’t see the appeal at first but the more I saw the more I understood. A younger me thought horses were simple. They only ate grass and hay (this one makes me laugh in hindsight now), they could live outside most of the time, you just walk up to catch them. That you just jump on and you can point the horse in the direction you want. That obviously the more talented people were really good as they had more expensive horses only.
But that is all wrong really.
The people who do well, who compete well and enjoy it all realise it is the payoff of hard work and caring.
It is the connection between the horse and it’s rider as they simply try to be the best team they can be and the steps they need to take to achieve that.
I got the horsey bug once I understood this as I wanted to see my girlfriend keep training and achieving greater things like being able to do even bigger jumps or her doing well in her first dressage test.
Also once you realise how hard it can be to make a horse do what you want and jump high, puissance is an amazing example of the limits of what that teamwork can do and it is awesome to watch in action.
So I changed. I got proper countryside clothes, I learnt some of the terms and names for things (still got a lot to learn in that department), learning some of the rules of the actual events, and once I started chipping in and helping with either cleaning up, making food, setting up jumps ect then I really got a kick out of it.
Future me knows that, this sport is pure passion and that it is a hard sport to half ass. With horse riding almost every day is about the love of horses and horse riding and doing what’s considered essential and honestly that’s why it is interesting to me.